Alocasias might just be the most unique and almost otherworldly plants to grow indoors. If you’re an indoor plant lover, chances are, you either own one or have strong urges to ‘add to cart’ or grab one every time you visit a nursery. No judgement here! These plants are hard to walk past without being intrigued by their striking foliage and tropical feel.
Although it grabs the attention of the eyes and causes a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, these guys do not enjoy much attention in the care department, and actually prefer a little neglect (especially when it comes to watering!). If you’ve ever lost an Alocasia, it might have been due to overwatering or pesky buggers like spider mites or mealy bugs. In this care guide, we’ll dish all the dirt on how to take good care of your indoor Alocasias.
First things first, let’s talk about the definite no-nos when it comes to watering your Alocasia. Most Alocasias breathe their last due to overwatering. These plants are very sensitive to too much water as this can result in crown rot. Before watering, it is vital to check the mixture levels of the soil rather than sticking to a prescribed watering schedule.
Alocasias enjoy a little dampness but you will have to make adjustments according to the season and the position of your plant in your home. During warmer months, Alocasias enjoy a growth spurt so be sure to water it thoroughly. During the winter months, however, when the temperature is cooler and there is less light, these plants will require significantly less water. To ebb on the side of caution, you can let the plant dry prior to watering again.
Watering tip: water from the bottom (e.g. tray) to avoid crown rot.
Choosing the best spot
Alocasias are naturally found in rainforest habitats which means that you have to imitate these conditions for your Alocasia to feel at home. Ideally, they need bright conditions (bright, indirect sunlight) so ensure that your plant is in a spot where it can enjoy ample natural light.
A light warning: Be cautious when placing your plant in direct sunlight. The leaves will scorch if the light is too intense.
The secret is in the soil. To ensure that the tuberous roots do not stagnate in wet, compacted soil, plant or re-pot Alocasias in light, airy compost. It’s always best to make your own soil mixture. Mix peat-free houseplant compost with a generous amount of coconut coir (a naturally fibrous material).
No plant is really exempted from pests, and surely not the Aloscasias. A few pesky lovers of the Alocasia include spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and scale. These buggers can be found on both sides of the leaves, also on the stems, or in between leaf sheaths near the crown. If you spot them on your plant, wipe away with a damp cloth and spray mild pest spray. Be sure to get into the cracks and creases. Ensure you monitor your plant and inspect it regularly to make sure the pest population does not reach epic proportions (as they tend to increase exponentially!).
Dying or resting?
If you notice the foliage is dying and leaves are yellowing, this can be a sign that your plant is overwatered. However, do not be alarmed! It could also be an indication of its natural life cycle. When it nears the end of its growing season, you will start to notice the outer (older) leaves slowly start to turn yellow, then brown, and finally dying completely. This is because the plant will slow down, and enter a dormant state to conserve energy for the winter or colder season. This energy is preserved in the underground tubers so that when the warmer season arrives, it’s ready to kick back into action and send out new foliage. It’s quite a wonderful process to behold.
Moral of the story: do not give up on your Alocasia, or your ability to grow one!
Here's a list of a few of our favourite Alocasias